Something many cat-owners dread is hairballs. They are disgusting and unpleasant for anyone who has to clean them up. Also, they can be harmful to your cat.
Hairballs are something you will always come across with your feline companion around the house. This is only true in situations where they spit them up. So, what happens when they don’t?
If your cat isn’t excreting hairballs, then it may be at risk of intestinal health issues. Since you can’t stop your cat from self-grooming, then you should find ways to minimize hairballs and also ensure that the digestive tract remains in good condition.
How Do Hairballs Form?
The excellent grooming habits that cats exhibit is what creates the hairballs many people hate to see. As your cat engages in self-grooming, they do a great job keeping their coat clean and shiny. This involves licking the fur with their tongue.
As they do this, some of the loose, dead hair end up attaching to the hook-like structures on the tongue. The dead hair is then swallowed and makes its way to the digestive tract of the cat. The only problem is that the hair can’t be digested.
It remains in the stomach, and the hair accumulates, forming a hairball. To eliminate the hairball, most cats vomit them. The journey out of the stomach through the esophagus is what creates the tube-like and thin appearance of the hairball.
Maine Coons, Persians, and other long-haired breeds usually produce more hairballs than other short-haired cat breeds. If you have a cat that engages in grooming compulsively or one that sheds a lot of furs, then you may notice more hairballs.
Hairballs usually appear more often when a cat grows into an adult and is less frequent in kittens. This is because adult cats have better grooming skills. This makes them better at using their tongues to get rid of fur on their coats.
Signs of Hairball Problems
Many cats often have problems vomiting hairballs. You may often hear your cat trying to eliminate hairballs, or even get a chance to watch it happen. This shouldn’t take too long.
The following symptoms may indicate issues with hairballs:
Gagging, Hacking, and Coughing
These are sounds your cat will make when trying to throw up a hairball. When the hairball doesn’t come out, it will make these sounds repeatedly.
Bowel Movement Changes
Excreting waste becomes a challenge for your cat if it develops a large hairball in its digestive tract. You may notice recurrent constipation or diarrhea in such instances.
When hairballs become an issue, your cat loses interest in most of its regular activities. It starts to become slow and sick.
Weight Loss or Loss of Appetite
Food usually becomes unattractive when your cat is having hairball issues. If the hairball is obstructing the digestive tract, then your cat will stop eating as usual. As a result, you may notice your cat lose weight in the process.
One of the clear signs of the hairball problem is a swollen belly. This is due to the obstruction the hairball creates in the digestive tract. You should visit your vet immediately.
These symptoms may be signs of a blockage caused by a hairball. This blockage may be life-threatening, so going to your vet is essential.
Remedies to Reduce Hairballs
As you know, you can’t eliminate hairballs. However, you can take specific steps to lower the frequency and chances of them occurring. Here are some things you can do to achieve this:
Taking time to groom your cat regularly is one way to handle hairballs. With this action, you minimize the amount of fur present on the cat. This will reduce the fur the cat ingests when self-grooming.
To do this, you can brush or comb your cat daily. You can also visit a professional groomer if your cat is making your work difficult. This is common among cats that aren’t used to the brushing or combing.
A groomer can help you perform a haircut and from your cat. You should do this every six months or less.
Use Cat Food with Hairball Formula
There are specialized cat foods from various manufacturers that help reduce hairballs in cats. These foods contain formulas with high fiber content that reduce shedding and boost coat health. They also make it easier for the hairballs to pass through the digestive system of your cat.
Use a Laxative of Hairball Product
To make the hairballs pass through the digestive tract with ease, you can make use of hairball products available on the market. These products are usually mild laxatives that can be helpful to your cats.
Find a Way to Stop Compulsive Grooming
Training your cat is another way to minimize hairball. This is an option for cats that exhibit signs of compulsive grooming. You can get your cat to focus on a more productive activity than licking its coat.
You may provide a new toy for the cat to play with or play with the cat to develop a stronger bond.
Help Your Cat Stay Hydrated
Providing enough water for your cat to drink and stay hydrated can be helpful for the digestive tract. The tract will remain lubricated and run smoothly thanks to the water.
Surgical options are available to help deal with the problem of hairballs. This is often a necessity if there is a hairball causing a blockage in the digestive tract of your cat. Contact your vet to learn more about what you should do if you think there is anything wrong.
Although it is normal for cats to vomit hairballs, it is a problem the vomiting becomes frequent. Anything more than once a month is a problem you need to look into. You can visit your vet if you don’t notice anything odd.
Also, not all coughing is a sign of hairballs in cats. Your cat may be coughing due to allergies or other skin problems.